Monday, March 6, 2017

Wow, it's like almost all of the Trump Threads decided to converge at 3:49 on a Saturday morning -- UPDATED

Rachel Roberts writing for The Independent:

White House officials have reportedly said they have no idea where President Donald Trump got his information that his phones were wire-tapped by Barack Obama.

Mr Trump made his latest explosive claims on Twitter without offering supporting evidence, saying he was the target of a Watergate-style plot and his New York office was wiretapped during the election campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Two former senior US officials dismissed Mr Trump's accusations out of hand as “just nonsense” and “just wrong”, with one telling CNN categorically: “This did not happen”.

Mr Trump, who has frequently railed against “fake news”, apparently relied on conservative media sources rather than intelligence briefings to support his allegations – to the exasperation of members of his own team.

One White House official is reported to have “grimaced” when he woke up and saw the President’s fluffy of tweets, according to Politico.

“It could have come from anywhere”, the official reportedly said, adding it was unlikely to have been an official source.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” the President tweeted, in a reference to Cold-war era allegations of espionage without evidence.

Breitbart, the right-wing media outlet previously run by Mr Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, published a story accusing the Obama administration of having monitored Trump Towers during the election campaign.

The Breitbart story, which claimed the tactics were designed to undermine Mr Trump’s bid for the White House in a similar way to the “Plumbers” plot against the Democrats by President Nixon, referenced commentary by radio host Mark Levin.

But neither Breitbart nor Mr Levin offered any independent reporting or cited any intelligence sources to support their allegations.

As far back as 2015, we've been making the point that "the Donald Trump candidacy is providing the kind of stress that highlights flaws in our journalistic system." Various practices and conventions that have always been bad are now undeniably bad. Some journalists continue to hold to these discredited notions and are left looking like fools, but many, perhaps more, have responded by taking a long hard look in the mirror and upping their game.

For example, we did a post last week on Jay Rosen's smart analysis of accusation-driven reporting:
1.     Person A makes an accusation against Person B.
2.     Person B denies the accusation.
3.     A news outlet reports that the accusation has been made and denied, but doesn’t offer any information to support or disprove the accusation.
4.    The accusation itself, not the accuracy of the claim, is treated as the newsworthy story.
This was the default mode during Whitewater and it remained disturbingly common. Recently, though, things have started to shift. As President Trump's early morning tweets have accumulated, more journalists and pundits have started pointing out the implausibility in the lede and sometimes even the headline.

We've also been writing about how the immersive bubble that the conservative movement created has resulted in a base with a sense of the plausible and appropriate can no longer be reconciled with that of the general public like some massive psych experiment. A major aspect of this experiment was a Straussian approach to misinformation.  The operating assumption was that party's cannon fodder would be fed whatever it took to keep them angry and afraid while the leaders would know what was really going on.

With the rise of the Tea Party and culminating with the election, the leaders believe what the base believes. The conspiracy theories, rumors and outright fabrications that were supposed to keep the retiree in Florida worked up are now having the same effect on the president.


From a characteristically sharp piece by Josh Marshall [emphasis added]:

My best guess is that is a typically Trumpian development in that it involves both abject lying and a big splat of ignorance, laziness and ridiculousness of simply having no idea of how the different branches connect with each other. He hasn't realized that demanding a congressional investigation is different when you're President rather than some old guy getting angry watching Fox News in the living room. The President is in essence demanding Congress investigate him. Yes, he thinks it's Obama. But he inherited Obama's house. Whatever Obama did, Trump owns it.

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